An interesting problem surfaced this week: a client described her life as feeling subject to a “tweeting effect” - rushed with short, unfocused bursts of activity - leaving her overwhelmed, stressed and out of control.
Today, we are constantly bombarded with messages. Mobile communications are designed to make our lives easier, efficient and quicker, but they are becoming overwhelming.
Cognitive research indicates at the subconscious level we take in two billion bits of information per second but, to manage and make sense of this onslaught, our brain filters this into manageable chunks of 134 bits of information per second. Practically, this translates to seven (plus or minus two) objects that the average human can hold in working memory.
Between the ringing of the mobile, urgent emails, instant messages, unscheduled visitors, tighter deadlines, endless opportunities and ever-greater expectations, focusing on what’s most important has become more of a challenge than ever before. When you lose focus, your energy is dissipated over a broad spectrum of activities, accomplishing very little of value.
Everything competes for your focus. Managing it is the activity you can least afford to overlook. What do successful people have in common? Laser-beam focus. You will need a high level of concentration and consciousness, so remember and apply these instructions:
• Concentrate your efforts on the smallest number of activities that will produce the largest amount of productivity
• Identify a shortlist of activities you will exclusively focus on until completion
• Distractions create loss of focus and will pull you off course. While working, be ruthless and minimise all distractions. Protect your focus by any and all means possible!
• Avoid hopping from task to task and set a timer - put aside 45 minutes for large pieces of work
• Turn off reminders, email notifications, sound notifications and all electronic devices
• It is always possible to regain focus, but it is far easier to remain focused than to regain it
• The only justifiable reason for deviation is a force majeure!
Try these for one day and I guarantee you’ll go home early and find you’ll have a new problem - what to do with your extra time.